Video Shows Moment Iranian Forces Captured US Sailors

(U.S. Defense Department photo)(U.S. Defense Department photo)

Video has surfaced showing the moment Iranian forces captured U.S. sailors after their small patrol boats drifted into the country’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

The American troops — and their pair of Riverine Command Boats — have since been released, but as the video shows, the ordeal wasn’t exactly a friendly offer of assistance.

What’s also interesting is the crew-served weapons aboard the fast-attack boats — the Swedish CB-90 design — appear to be visible in the video but missing in subsequent photos.

Another video has also been released showing one of the sailors apologizing for the incident. “It was a mistake that was our fault,” he said, “and we apologize for our mistake.”

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • blight_

    Not sure why anyone can allege navigation malfunctions in an era of GPS.

    It may have been as simple as the Iranians shadowing the boats until they entered Iranian waters, then instead of bouncing them, boxing them in and forcing them to surrender. And in that case, the Americans might simply start tossing crew-served weapons and sensitive gear overboard, or destroy it in situ. Not sure what the Iranians were aiming for.

    Option A is that the Navy deliberately did this to cause an incident. Option B is that the boat was part of active operations and was caught. Option C is that this was indeed a training exercise and the boat somehow did drift into Iranian waters and was unable to escape in a timely fashion.

  • Mike

    The navy is pretty terrible at navigation, see USS Port Royal, USS Guardian (many more).. wrong datum is often used with the wrong chart, GPS error, GPS goes down, etc..

    • blight_

      Bad charts and hitting a reef or a seamount is one thing, but straying into bad territorial waters is another.

      One type of error is a bad position fix. The other is bad charts/imperfect information. There’s also poor handling of the ship, which may not be relevant here.

      If the CB-90’s were in Iranian waters and were suddenly bounced by the Iranian Navy after being well-in Iranian waters, that is one thing. If the charts inaccurately depicted where Iranian territorial waters began, that is another. And of course, there is that question of whether or not everyone agrees on a definition. If the Navy operates on one definition and the Iranians on the other, then an impasse is reached. If the two CB-90’s were boxed in with no way out, even if they were in the right…

      • Mike

        A bad position fix in the case of the port royal, relaying on INS in restricted waters is, well, doltish… In the case of the guardian, again relaying on scanty information and single source fixes in restricted waters is amateur as well. There are MANY other examples..

        If i’m not mistaken, the CB-90s use ECIDIS only, and have no paper charts… can they blame the ECDIS charts or GPS? They have a radar, and easily do fixes with that without the GPS.. but I highly doubt they even know that. I blame lack of training and incompetency. Maybe a bad chart from NGA, but HIGHLY unlikely, especially considering the area. Could it be that the agreement of where the territorial waters are located? Again HIGHLY unlikely considering the area.. and if so, then the commander is to blame that allowed them to transit into contested waters. Either way.

        • Mike

          relying* ECDIS*

  • Sim Gu

    Thank you Iran for showing how to treat humanely the foreign soldiers who came uninvited into your territory! Thank you US soldiers for not provoking any major international incident. The fact that both sides showed restraint and the encounter finished into peaceful manner is GREAT deal in this crazy world where starting a war is the norm nowadays.

  • Cloid

    All mighty! All mighty! This is patrol river boat Street Gang over ?

    • MIKE


  • guest

    Probably drifted into Iranian waters accidentally on the orders of some Admiral that was hoping for some kind of confrontation.

    • Jack

      Maddox incident again ?

  • dmost

    bizarre that they had their passports with them

  • Guest

    Drifted? As in the propulsion did not work and the boats could not move under their own power? As in “It wasn’t us who did it, it was the sea current who did it!”? That’s an excuse alright but an explanation? That’d mean either the propulsion on both boats had to fail at the same time or the propulsion failed at one of the boats and the fully functional boat, instead of towing the boat which could not move, instead of hauling ass to get out of there and avoid an international incident decided to turn off the engine to drift along with the boat that could not move? I must obviously be missing something here.

  • bill

    Maybe I have just become jaded in my later years….

    Naw…. I just don’t believe this, Groucho Marx could have written a better scenario for our military to be pawned by politics

  • Joedy

    Of course our sailors surrendered. That’s Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell.

    • P3t3

      Meanwhile Bush’s was letting Bin Laden get away!

      • Rufus

        Nah, that was Clinton.

    • blight_

      Americans have been surrendering since the British captured rebellious colonials. Your point?

      Obama? Obama? Eyeroll.

      • Rufus

        Good thing a carrier didn’t get off course, then.

  • P3t3

    Just speaking of the top here but I reckon it was done because the Iranians changed their comms frequencies/encryption type and they needed to provoke them in using a secure channel in order to gather information from it.

  • blight_

    Anyone know if we’re getting those CB-90’s back? I hope Iran isn’t going to strip them down…would definitely bring the sanctions back down again.

    Not sure Rouhani would risk alienating the US again so soon after the nuclear deal. The US could easily re-seize frozen Iranian assets if it couldn’t impose a full array of sanctions if required. If the IRGC wants to provoke an incident..then…

  • Long Island Computer

    They’re really ferocious! Have the capacity to defeat anyone.

  • Patriot on a String

    If you gain access to the Iranian Complete footage, they have their passports on their persons… Don’t know if the Navy has a different policy than my time in the Army (91-96) but our passports were kept in our records except for when we were traveling on approved leave in/out of the US or when we were transferring to duty stations in/out of the US… A Passport is very very hard to get a replacement for as well dog tags and military ID are all that is required in the AO, even then there are times the ID would be left behind, or both.. The fact this was apparently ‘video ready’ gives it a feel of staged between the countries to reinforce cooperative or mutual aide or improved relations by someone higher up the chain for approval of Iranian Sanctions being lifted by the American public as it coincided with the prisoner exchange… Just something very very off about this…

  • notrust

    I think some top military neo cons were trying to create an international incident and prevnt the Iran nuke deal from happening.

  • George Onik

    The whole thing smells fishy. I noticed the Iranians driving the captured boats into the harbor under their own power? Why not scuttle the boats and swim until the fleet arrives? A few well place grenades could have turned it into a salvage operation. Something is not quite right here.